Welcome! Today I'm sharing another scene from my historical novel, set in Japan in the 1870s.
Hanako stood her ground and tightened her lips, struggling to maintain a measure of decorum and respect toward the unkempt man before her. The buzz of springtime activity in the marketplace faded to the back of her mind. She had work to do.
Sato-san peered down at her, a menacing scowl adding more wrinkles to his sagging jowls. Drawing himself up to the fullest extent of his limited height, he looked down his nose and deigned to speak. She managed not to cringe outwardly from the stench of his stale breath.
“And why is your husband or father not here to purchase this livestock himself?”
Hanako ground her teeth to prevent herself from lashing out at the pompous merchant. She curled her fingers into fists, lest she should give in to the temptation to claw out his eyes. Sato-san knew very well why her husband was not here to purchase his own livestock. But she needed his cooperation, so she answered.
“The men in my home live no more,” she replied. “My father has been gone these past five summers, and my husband perished during the raid of the ronin last year.”
“Then you must take a new husband.” Sato-san grinned widely, displaying the few brown crooked teeth that remained in his mouth. “You are still fairly young. Perhaps I could be persuaded to give up my bachelor ways. A beautiful widow should not be left to fend for herself on a lonely farm. Even though the shoguns have declared peace, there are still dangerous men roaming the countryside.”
Hanako had first hand knowledge of the dangers. The memory of the attack last summer still haunted her dreams. Still, the thought of becoming Sato-san’s wife was even more repulsive than the bloody memories. She willed herself not to shudder visibly.
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